Monday, July 1, 2013

Christopher Columbus turned down for grant to find western sea route to Asia

Columbus didn't use the proper grant request form

Ferdinand II, King of Aragon, has turned down Italian would-be explorer Christopher Columbus for a grant of 50,000 maravedis to find a sea route to Asia.

In his rejection letter, the King – ruler of Aragon, Sicily, Naples, Majorca, Valencia, Sardinia, Navarre, Barcelona and Castile – said Columbus’ idea of sailing three stout ships to the west was impractical.

“Signore Columbus, your project, while daring and noble, is unrealistic. As we all know, the world is flat. By sailing west you will likely fall off the edge of the world,” said the King in the letter.

Columbus presented his project plans to Queen Isabella, wife of the King, in May of 1486, who in turn,
Ferdinand says the world is flat
referred it to a committee. The committee reported that Columbus had grossly underestimated the distance to Asia and would be likely swallowed by the mythical sea creatures who lived at the edge of the world. They also noted that the kings of Portugal and England had also evaluated the proposal and passed on it.

The King wrote that the grant request was partly rejected because it did not match existing fundraising priorities. These changed a few months ago when Bartolomeu Dias returned to Portugal with news of his successful rounding of the southern tip of Africa (near the Cape of Good Hope). Future grants will concentrate on eastern sea routes to Asia, the letter said.

Columbus, the letter noted, also missed the deadline to apply to the King’s court for a grant. As well, it made several grammatical mistakes, such as leaving out the fact that Ferdinand was the Count and not the Duke of Barcelona. Columbus also did not use the proper grant request form, as required by the King.

“The chance for you to discover a new world are exceedingly slim and you and most of your crew would likely die of scurvy which as we know is caused by bad vapors and angry spirits,” the letter said.

The King left the door open for Columbus to apply again next year after he conquered Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the Iberian Peninsula.

Reaching out to Isabella on Facebook
The rejection could not come at a worse time for Columbus, who has only been partially successful at crowd-sourcing his sea voyage in Italy. At his crowd-sourcing page and on Facebook, Columbus urged his followers to dig a little deeper to help finance the great voyage.

“Great riches lie before us. This is just but a small set-back in our voyage of discovery,” he wrote. “And if anyone is a friend of Queen Isabella on Facebook, send her a message telling her to connect with me.”